LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
Lord Byron.
Asiatic Journal  Vol. NS 1  (February 1830)  145-55.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH





Of all the poets of this country, Lord Byron is pre-eminently the poet of the East He is the only real English poet who has painted Asiatic manners from personal observation. The most vivid pictures of those manners ever presented to the public, are those which his genius has drawn. He, more than any other man, fixed the public attention on the degradation of Greece, and excited throughout the civilized world that enthusiasm for the liberation of the classic soil of liberty from its Asiatic despots, which has led to such striking changes in the fortunes of the Turkish empire. Of this enthusiasm Lord Byron was as assuredly the author, as he was, most unhappily, the victim.

Independently of the great and general interest which this publication has excited, it abounds with attractive matter in that class of subjects to which this journal is devoted. We shall, therefore, confine our attention, for the present at least, to those portions of the volume before us which are more especially connected with our own peculiar province.

In the year 1807, Lord Byron, being then nineteen years of age, and having been two years at Trinity College, Cambridge, began a memorandum-book, containing an account of all the books which he had already perused at that early period of life.

The list (says Mr. Moore) is undoubtedly a remarkable one; and when we recollect that the reader of all these volumes was at the same time the possessor of a most retentive memory, it may be doubted whether, among what are called the regularly educated, the contenders for scholastic honours and prizes, there could be found a single one who at the same age has possessed any thing like the same stock of useful knowledge.—P. 95.

In this list the number of historical works is very great. We find among them:

Turkey.——I have read Knolles, Sir Paul Rycaut, and Prince Cantemir, besides a more modern history, anonymous. Of the Ottoman History I know every event, from Tangralopi, and afterwards Othman I. to the peace of Passarowitz, in 1718,—the battle of Cutzka, in 1789, and the treaty between Russia and Turkey in 1790.—P. 96.

Hindostan.Orme and Cambridge.

Further on, is a list which he had written out from memory of the different “Poets, dramatic or otherwise, who have distinguished their respective languages by their productions.” In this list we find:

Arabia.Mahomet, whose Koran contains most sublime poetical passages, far surpassing European poetry.

Persia.Ferdousi, author of the Shah Nameh, the Persian Iliad,—Sadi, and Hafiz, the immortal Hafiz, the oriental Anacreon. The last is reverenced beyond any bard of ancient or modern times by the Persians, who resort to his tomb near Shiraz, to celebrate his memory. A splendid copy of his works is chained to his monument.

* Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, with Notices of his Life. By Thomas Moore. In two volumes. Vol. i. London, 1830. Murray.
146 Lord Byron.

Hindostan is undistinguished by any great bard,—at least, the Sanscrit is so imperfectly known to Europeans, we know not what poetical relics may exist.

The Birman Empire.—Here the natives are passionately fond of poetry, but their bards are unknown.

China.—I never heard of any Chinese poet but the Emperor Kien Long, and his ode to Tea. What a pity their philosopher Confucius did not write poetry, with his precepts of morality.—P. 100.

The first notice of his intended voyage to the East is in a letter to his mother, dated 7th October 1808, in which he talks of “departing for Persia in March (or May at farthest);” and in another letter to his mother, of the 9th November following, he talks of sailing for India, and says:

I wish you would inquire of Major Watson (who is an old Indian) what things will be necessary to provide for my voyage.........I can easily get letters from government to the ambassadors, consuls, &c.; and also to the governors at Calcutta and Madras.

If I do not travel now, I never shall; and all men should one day or other. I have at present no connexions to keep me at home; no wife, or unprovided sisters, brothers, &c. I shall take care of you, and when I return, I may possibly become a politician. A few years’ knowledge of other countries than our own will not incapacitate me for that part. If we see no nation but our own, we do not give mankind a fair chance. It is from experience, not books, we ought to judge of them.—Pp. 153, 154.

On the 11th of June 1809 Lord Byron sailed for Lisbon, taking with him “the treasure of a servant, Friese, a native of Prussia, who had been among the worshippers of fire in Persia, and had seen Persepolis, and all that.“—P. 189.

Mr. Hobhouse accompanied him. “H * *,” says Lord B, “has made woundy preparations for a book on his return; 100 pens, two gallons of Japan ink, and several volumes of best blank, is no bad provision for a discerning public.“—P. 189.

Remembering the bulk of Mr. H.’s travels, we think the two gallons of Japan ink may have proved sufficient; but the pens and paper must have been a scanty supply.

They landed on the 29th of September at Prevesa, and on the 12th of November, Lord Byron writes from thence to his mother, and gives a familiar description of Ali Pacha and his people, which it is interesting to compare with the more laboured and imaginative description in Childe Harold.

I have now been some time in Turkey: this place is on the coast, but I have traversed the interior of the province of Albania on a visit to the Pacha. I left Malta in the Spider, a brig of war, on the 21st of September, and arrived in eight days at Prevesa. I thence have been about 150 miles, as far as Tepaleen, his highness’s country palace, where I stayed three days. The name of the Pacha is Ali, and he is considered a man of the first abilities: he governs the whole of Albania (the ancient Illyricum), Epirus, and part of Macedonia. His son, Vely Pacha, to whom he has given me letters, governs the Morea, and has great influence in Egypt; in short he is one of the most powerful wen in the Ottoman empire. When I reached Yanina, the capital, after a journey of three days over the mountains, through a country of the most picturesque beauty, I found that Ali Pacha was with
Lord Byron.147
his army in Illyricum, besieging Ibrahim Pacha in the castle of Peret. He had heard that an Englishman of rank was in his dominions, and had left orders in Yanina with the commandant to provide a house, and supply me with every kind of necessary gratis: and, though I have been allowed to make presents to the slaves, &c. I have rot beer permitted to pay for a single article of household consumption.

I rode out on the vizier’s horses, and saw the palaces of himself and grandsons: they are splendid, but too much ornamented with silk and gold. I then went over the mountains through Zitza, a village with a Greek monastery (where I slept on my return), in the most beautiful situation (always excepting Cintra, in Portugal) I ever beheld. In nine days I reached Tepaleen. Our journey was much prolonged by the torrents that had fallen from the mountains, and intersected the roads. I shall never forget the singular scene on entering Tepaleen at five the afternoon, as the sun was going down. It brought to my mind (with some change of dress, however) Scott’s description of Branksome Castle in his Lay, and the feudal system. The Albanians, in their dresses (the most magnificent in the world, consisting of a long white kilt, gold-worked cloak, crimson velvet gold-laced jacket and waistcoat, silver-mounted pistols and daggers), the Tartars with their high caps, the Turks in their vast pelisses and turbans, the soldiers and black slaves with the horses, the former in groups in an immense large open gallery in front of the palace, the latter placed in a kind of cloister below it, two hundred steeds ready caparisoned to move in a moment, couriers entering or passing out with despatches, the kettle-drums beating, boys calling the hour from the minaret of the mosque, altogether, with the singular appearance of the building itself, formed a new and delightful spectacle to a stranger. I was conducted to a very handsome apartment, and my health inquired after by the vizier’s secretary, à-la-mode Turque.

The next day I was introduced to Ali Pacha. I was dressed in a full suit of staff uniform, with a very magnificent sabre, &c. The vizier received me in a large room paved with marble; a fountain was playing in the centre; the apartment was surrounded by scarlet ottomans. He received me standing (a wonderful compliment from a Mussulman), and made me sit down on his right hand. I have a Greek interpreter for general use, but a physician of Ali’s, named Fembario, who understands Latin, acted for me on this occasion. His first question was, why, at so early an age, I left my country. (The Turks have no idea of travelling for amusement.) He then said, the English minister, Captain Leake, had told him I was of a great family, and desired his respects to my mother, which I now, in the name of Ali Pacha, present to you. He said he was certain I was a man of birth, because I had small ears, curling hair, and little white hands, and expressed himself pleased with my appearance and garb. He told me to consider him as a father whilst I was in Turkey, and said he looked on me as his son. Indeed he treated me like a child, sending me almonds and sugared sherbet, fruit and sweetmeats, twenty times a day. He begged me to visit him often, and at night when he was at leisure. I then, after coffee and pipes, retired for the first time. I saw him thrice afterwards. It is singular that the Turks, who have no hereditary dignities, and few great families, except the Sultan’s, pay so much respect to birth, for I found my pedigree more regarded than my title.

On the 31st of October 1809, Lord Byron began his poem of Childe Harold, and completed the second canto at Smyrna, on the 28th of March 1810. On the 19th of March he writes again to his mother:

148 Lord Byron.

I cannot write you a long letter, but as I know you will not be sorry to receive any intelligence of my movements, pray accept of what I can give. I have traversed the greatest part of Greece, besides Epirus, &c. &c, residing ten weeks at Athens, and am now on the Asiatic side on my way to Constantinople. I have just returned from viewing the ruins of Ephesus, a day’s journey from Smyrna. I presume you have received a long letter I wrote from Albania, with an account of my reception by the Pacha of the province.

When I arrive at Constantinople I shall determine whether I shall proceed into Persia or return, which latter I do not wish if I can avoid it. But I have no intelligence from Mr. H * *, and but one letter from yourself. I shall stand in need of remittances, whether I proceed or return. I have written to him repeatedly, that he may not plead ignorance of my situation for neglect. I can give you no account of any thing, for I have not time or opportunity, the frigate sailing immediately; indeed, the further I go the more my laziness increases, and my aversion to letter-writing becomes more confirmed. I have written to no one but Mr. H * * and yourself, and these are communications of business and duty rather than of inclination.

F * * is very much disgusted with his fatigues, though he has undergone nothing that I have not shared. He is a poor creature, indeed. English servants are detestable travellers. I have besides him two Albanian soldiers and a Greek interpreter; all excellent in their way. Greece, particularly in the vicinity of Athens, is delightful; cloudless skies and lovely landscapes. But I must reserve all accounts of my adventures till we meet. I keep no journal, but my friend H. writes incessantly. Pray take care of Murray and Robert, and tell the boy it is the most fortunate thing for him that he did not accompany me to Turkey.

His movements are more fully detailed in a letter to Mr. Henry Drury, dated “Salsette Frigate, May 3, 1810.”

I have crossed Portugal, traversed the south of Spain, visited Sardinia, Sicilia, Malta, and thence passed into Turkey, where I am still wandering. I first landed in Albania, the ancient Epirus, where we penetrated as far as Mount Tomarit, excellently treated by the chief, Ali Pacha; and after wandering through Illyria, Chaonia, &c. crossed the Gulf of Actium with a guard of fifty Albanians, and passed the Achelous in our route through Acarnania and Ætolia. We stopped a short time in the Morea, crossed the Gulf of Lepanto, and landed at the foot of Parnassus;—saw all that Delphi retains, and so on to Thebes and Athens, at which last we remained ten weeks.

His Majesty’s ship Pylades brought us to Smyrna, but not before we had topographized Attica, including, of course, Marathon, and the Lemnian promontory. From Smyrna to the Troad (which we visited when at anchor for a fortnight off the tomb of Antilochus), was our next stage; and now we are in the Dardanelles, waiting for a wind to proceed to Constantinople.

This morning I swam from Sestos to Abydos. The immediate distance is not above a mile, but the current renders it hazardous; so much so, that I doubt whether Leander’s conjugal affection must not have been a little chilled in his passage to Paradise. I attempted it a week ago, and failed, owing to the north wind, and the wonderful rapidity of the tide, though I have been a strong swimmer from my childhood. But this morning being calmer, I succeeded, and crossed the broad Hellespont in an hour and ten minutes.

Well, my dear Sir, I have left my home, and seen a part of Africa and Asia, and a tolerable portion of Europe. I have been with generals and admirals, princes and pachas, governors and ungovernables; but I have not time or
Lord Byron.149
paper to expatiate. I wish to let you know that I live with a friendly remembrance of you, and hope to meet you again: and if I do this as shortly as possible, attribute it to any thing but forgetfulness.

Greece, ancient and modern, you know too well to require description. Albania, indeed, I have seen more of than any Englishman (except a Mr. Leake); for it is a country rarely visited, from the savage character of the natives, though abounding in more natural beauties than the classical regions of Greece, which, however, are still eminently beautiful, particularly Delphi and Cape Colonna, in Attica. Yet these are nothing to parts of Illyria and Epirus, where places without name, and rivers not laid down in maps, may one day, when more known, be justly esteemed superior subjects for the pencil or the pen, to the dry ditch of the Ilissus, and the bogs of Bœotia.

The Troad is a fine field for conjecture and snipe shooting, and a good sportsman and an ingenious scholar may exercise their feet and faculties to great advantage upon the spot; or if they prefer riding, lose their way (as I did) in a cursed quagmire of the Scamander, who wriggles about as if the Dardan virgins still offered their wonted tribute. The only vestige of Troy or her destroyers are the barrows supposed to contain the carcases of Achilles, Antilochus, Ajax, &c.; but Mount Ida is still in high feather, though the shepherds are now-a-days not much like Ganymede. P. 220, 221.

I like the Greeks, who are plausible rascals, with all the Turkish vices, without their courage. However some are brave, and all are beautiful, very much resembling the busts of Alcibiades: the women are not quite so handsome. I can swear in Turkish, but except one horrible oath, and ‘pimp,’ and ‘bread’ and ‘water,’ I have got no great vocabulary in that language. They are extremely polite to strangers of any rank properly protected; and as I have two servants and two soldiers, we get on with great éclat.

We have been occasionally in danger of thieves, and once of shipwreck, but always escaped.—P. 222.

I omitted Ephesus in my catalogue, which I visited during my sojourn at Smyrna; but the temple has almost perished, and St. Paul need not trouble himself to epistolize the present brood of Ephesians, who have converted a large church built entirely of marble into a mosque; and I do not know that the edifice looks the worse for it.

My paper is full, and my ink ebbing—good afternoon! If you address to me at Malta, the letter will be forwarded, wherever I may be.

H. greets you; he pines for his poetry—at least some tidings of it. I almost forgot to tell you, that I am dying for love of three Greek girls at Athens, sisters. I lived in the same house. Teresa, Mariana, and Hatinka are the names of these divinities, all of them under fifteen.—P. 223.

The first-named of these three divinities is his “Maid of Athens.” Mr. Moore cites some interesting particulars respecting them from Williams’s Travels in Greece.

From Constantinople, where Lord Byron arrived on the 14th of May, he wrote several letters to his mother, in almost every one of which he commemorated his achievement of swimming across the Hellespont, “in humble imitation,” he says, “of Leander, of amorous memory, though I had no Hero to receive me on the other side of the Hellespont.“—P. 226.

On the 17th of June 1810, he writes to Mr. Henry Drury:

I am just come from an expedition through the Bosphorus to the Black
150Lord Byron.
Sea, and the Cyanean Symplegades, up which last I scrambled, at as great a risk as ever the Argonauts escaped in their hoy.

I have now sat on the Cyaneans, swam from Sestos to Abydos, as I trumpeted in my last, and after passing through the Morea again, shall set sail for Santa Maura, and toss myself from the Leucadian promontory; surviving which operation, I shall probably rejoin you in England. H., who will deliver this, is bound straight for these parts; and as he is bursting with his travels I shall not anticipate his narratives, but merely beg you not to believe one word he says, but reserve your ear for me, if you have any desire to be acquainted with the truth.—P. 227, 228.

About ten days later he writes to his mother:

I have been in all the principal mosques by the virtue of a firman; this is a favour rarely permitted to infidels, but the ambassador’s departure obtained it for us. I have been up the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, round the walls of the city, and, indeed, I know more of it by sight than I do of London. I hope to amuse you some winter’s evening with the details, but at present you must excuse me: I am not able to write long letters in June.

I return to spend my summer in Greece.

F. is a poor creature, and requires comforts that I can dispense with. He is very sick of his travels, but you must not believe his accounts of the country. He sighs for ale, and idleness, and a wife, and the devil knows what besides. I have not been disappointed or disgusted. I have lived with the highest and the lowest. I have been for days in a Pacha’s palace, and have passed many a night in a cow-house, and I find the people inoffensive and kind. I have also passed some time with the principal Greeks in the Morea and Livodia, and, though inferior to the Turks, they are better than the Spaniards, who in their turn excel the Portuguese. Of Constantinople you will find many descriptions in different travels; but Lady Wortley errs strangely when she says St. Paul’s would cut a strange figure by St. Sophia’s. I have been in both, surveyed them inside and out attentively; St. Sophia’s is undoubtedly the most interesting from its immense antiquity, and the circumstance of all the Greek emperors, from Justinian, having been crowned there, and several murdered at the altar, besides the Turkish sultans who attend it regularly; but it is inferior in beauty and size to some of the mosques, particularly ‘Soleyman,’ &c.&c., and not to be mentioned in the same page with St. Paul’s (I speak like a Cockney). However, I prefer the Gothic cathedral of Seville to St. Paul’s, St. Sophia’s, and any religious building I have ever seen.

The walls of the Seraglio are like the walls of Newstead Gardens, only higher, and much in the same order, but the ride by the walls of the city on the land side, is beautiful. Imagine four miles of immense triple battlements, covered with ivy, surmounted with 218 towers, and, on the other side of the road, Turkish burying-grounds (the loveliest spots on earth) full of enormous cypresses. I have seen the ruins of Athens, of Ephesus, and Delphi. I have traversed great part of Turkey, and many other parts of Europe, and some of Asia; but I never beheld a work of art or nature which yielded an impression like the prospect on each side from the Seven Towers to the end of the Golden Horn.—Pp. 229, 230.

From Constantinople he went in four days to Athens, by the Salsette frigate; from Athens to Corinth, in company with the Marquis of Sligo: having previously parted with Mr. Hobhouse; then alone to Patras.

The greater part of the two following months he appears to have occupied
Lord Byron.151
in making a tour of the Morea. On his return to Patras he was seized with a distemper, the particulars of which, as given by himself, “are in many respects,” says
Mr. Moore, “so similar to those of the last fatal malady with which, fourteen years afterwards, he was attacked in nearly the same spot, that, livelily as the account is written, it is difficult to read it without melancholy.”

These particulars are given in a letter from Lord Byron to Mr. Hodgson:

As I have just escaped from a physician and a fever, which confined me five days to bed, you will not expect much ‘allegrezza’ in the ensuing letter. In this place, there is an indigenous distemper, which when the wind blows from the Gulf of Corinth (as it does five months out of six) attacks great and small, and makes woeful work with visitors. Here be also two physicians, one of whom trusts to his genius (never having studied), the other to a campaign of eighteen months against the sick of Otranto, which he made in his youth with great effect.

When I was seized with my disorder, I protested against both these assassins; but what can a feverish, helpless, toasted-and-watered poor wretch do? in spite of my teeth and tongue, the English consul, my Tartar, Albanians, Dragoman, forced a physician upon me, and in three days vomited and glistered me to the last gasp. In this state I made my epitaph, take it:
Youth, Nature, and relenting Jove,
To keep my lamp in strongly strove;
But Romanelli was so stout
He beat all three, and blew it out.
But Nature and Jove, being piqued at my doubts, did, in fact, at last, beat Romanelli, and here I am, well but weakly, at your service.—P. 239, 240.

The recollection of this treatment was probably the cause that determined his pertinacious refusal, in his last illness, to submit to the discipline proposed to him.

The annoyance which he experienced from his English servant, who seems to have been throughout “more a hindrance than a help” to him, is ludicrously described in a subsequent letter from Athens, and will be borne out by the experience of nine persons in ten who have ever gone about the world with one of these impracticable animals.

I have sent F. home with papers, &c. I cannot find that he is any loss; being tolerably master of the Italian and modern Greek languages, which last I am also studying with a master, I can order and discourse more than enough for a reasonable man. Besides, the perpetual lamentations after beef and beer, the stupid bigoted contempt for every thing foreign, and insurmountable incapacity of acquiring even a few words of any language, rendered him, like all other English servants, an incumbrance. I do assure you, the plague of speaking for him, the comforts he required (more than myself by far), the pilaws which he could not eat, the wines which he could not drink, the beds where he could not sleep, and the long list of calamities, such as stumbling horses, want of tea! &c. which assailed him, would have made a lasting source of laughter to a spectator, and inconvenience to a master. After all the man is honest enough, and, in Christendom, capable enough; but, in Turkey, Lord forgive me! my Albanian soldiers, my Tartars and Janizary, worked for him and us too, as my friend Hobhouse can testify.—P. 245.

152 Lord Byron.

Disappointment in remittances appears to have been the principal cause of his return home. He left the East with reluctance. He wrote to his mother, Feb. 28, 1811, if necessary, to sell Rochdale: but on no account to sell Newstead; and that if the latter were disposed of, he would pass his life abroad.

My only tie to England is Newstead, and, that once gone, neither interest nor inclination lead me northward. Competence in your country is ample wealth in the East, such is the difference in the value of money and the abundance of the necessaries of life, and I feel myself so much a citizen of the world, that the spot where I can enjoy a delicious climate, and every luxury at a less expense than a college life in England, will always be a country to me; and such are in fact the shores of the Archipelago. This then is the alternative: if I preserve Newstead, I return; if I sell it, I stay away.—P. 246.

The failure of remittances appears to have caused him to abandon an intended voyage to Egypt, and he returned to England in the summer of 1811.

Mr. Moore, at this stage of the memoir, enters into some speculations on the manner in which mountain-scenery, solitude, and travel, had contributed to the formation of Lord Byron’s poetical character.

To the East, he had looked with the eyes of romance from his very childhood. Before he was ten years of age, the perusal of Rycaut’s History of the Turks had taken a strong hold of his imagination, and he read eagerly in consequence every book concerning the East he could find. In visiting, therefore, those countries, he was but realizing the dreams of his childhood; and this return of his thoughts to that innocent time, gave a freshness and purity to their current which they had long wanted.—P. 255.

And in a note on this passage we find:

But a few months before he died, in a conversation with Maurocordato, at Missolonghi, Lord Byron said ‘the Turkish history was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child, and I believe it had much influence on my subsequent wishes to visit the Levant, and gave perhaps the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry.’—Count Gamba’s Narrative.

An enumeration is subjoined, from a memorandum of Lord Byron’s, of the writers that, besides Rycaut, had drawn his attention so early to the East:

Knolles, Cantemir, De Tott, Lady M. W. Montague, Hawkins’s Translation from Mignot’s History of the Turks, the Arabian Nights, all travels, or histories, or books upon the East I could meet with, I had read, as well as Rycaut, before I was ten years old. I think, the Arabian Nights first.

In England, the desire to return to the East haunted him incessantly. In a letter, dated February 1812, he says:

In the spring of 1813 I shall leave England for ever. Every thing in my affairs tends to this, and my inclination and health do not discourage it. Neither my habits nor constitution are improved by your customs or your climate. I shall find employment by making myself a good oriental scholar. I shall retain a mansion in one of the finest islands, and retrace, at intervals, the most interesting portions of the East. In the mean time I am adjusting
Lord Byron.153
my concerns, which will (when arranged) leave me with wealth sufficient even for a home, but enough for a principality in Turkey.—P. 333.

In May 1813, he published the Giaour, a poem founded oh an event in which he was personally concerned. Some incorrect statement of this romantic incident having got into circulation, Lord Byron requested the Marquis of Sligo to furnish him with his recollections on the subject. The following is Lord Sligo’s answer:

You have requested me to tell you all that I heard at Athens about the affair of that girl who was so near being put an end to while you were there; you have asked me to mention every circumstance, in the remotest degree relating to it, which I heard. In compliance with your wishes, I write to you all I heard, and cannot imagine it to be very far from the fact, as the circumstance happened only a day or two before I arrived at Athens, and consequently was a matter of common conversation at the time.

The new governor, unaccustomed to have the same intercourse with the Christians as his predecessor, had of course the barbarous Turkish ideas with regard to women. In consequence, and in compliance with the strict letter of the Mahommedan law, he ordered this girl to be sewed up in a sack, and thrown into the sea, as is, indeed, quite customary at Constantinople. As you were returning from bathing in the Piraeus, you met the procession going down to execute the sentence of the Waywode on this unfortunate girl. Report continues to say, that on finding out what the object of the journey was, and who was the miserable sufferer, you immediately interfered, and on some delay in obeying your orders, you were obliged to inform the leader of the escort that force should make him comply; that on further hesitation you drew a pistol, and told him that if he did not immediately obey your orders, and come back with you to the Aga’s house, you would shoot him dead. On this the man turned about and went with you to the governor’s house; here you succeeded, partly by personal threats, and partly by bribery and entreaty, to procure her pardon on condition of her leaving Athens. I was told that you then conveyed her in safety to the convent, and despatched her off at night to Thebes, where she found a safe asylum.—P. 389, 390.

In June 1813, we find him again thinking of the East, and purchasing about a dozen snuff-boxes as presents for some of his Turkish acquaintance. In a journal begun in the same year, he says:

Give me a Mussulman who never asks questions, and a she of the same race who saves one the trouble of putting them. But for this same plague—yellow-fever and Newstead delay—I should have been by this time a second time close to the Euxine. If I can overcome the last, I don’t so much mind your pestilence; and at any rate the spring shall see me there.—P. 435.

Give me a republic, or a despotism of one, rather than the mixed government of one, two, three. The Asiatics are not qualified to be republicans; but they have the liberty of demolishing despots, which is the next thing to it.—P. 449.

I shall now smoke two cigars, and get me to bed. The cigars don’t keep well here. The Havannah are the best; but neither are so pleasant as a hooka or a chibouque. The Turkish tobacco is mild, and their horses entire; two things as they should be.—P. 465.

Went last night to the play. Refused to go to Lady ——’s on Monday. If I must fritter away my life, I had rather do it alone. I was much tempted.
154Lord Byron.
C. looked so Turkish with her red turban and her regular dark and clear features. Not that she and I were or could be any thing; but I love any aspect that reminds me of the children of the sun.—P. 467.

These few passages show how much he was in love with every thing oriental: women, scenery, horses, and hookas; and even governments, by comparison with any form not republican.

The government of one, two, three, certainly did not work well in his own case, when he was one of the executive directory of Drury Lane Theatre. “We were but few,” he says, “and never agreed. There was Peter Moore, who contradicted Kinnaird; and Kinnaird, who contradicted everybody.“—P. 633. These names are familiar to our readers, as is that of Sir James Mackintosh, whom he calls “the brightest of northern constellations,” on the occasion of Sir James having lent him three volumes on Turkish literature,“ amongst many other kind things,“ says Lord Byron, “into which India has warmed him, for I am sure your home Scotsman is of a less genial description.”—P. 425.

This first volume brings down the memoirs to the day on which Lord Byron took his final leave of his country, the 25th of April 1816. Of the second, which has yet to appear, Mr. Moore says in his preface:

However lamentable were the circumstances under which Lord Byron became estranged from his country, to his long absence from England, during the most brilliant period of his powers, we are indebted for all those interesting letters which compose the greater part of the second volume of this work, and which will be found equal, if not superior, in point of vigour, variety, and liveliness, to any that have yet adorned this branch of our literature.

We shall resume our notice of this publication on the appearance of the second volume. Mr. Moore has not adopted the usual form of a memoir and appendix: but has left Lord Byron’s papers to tell, as far as possible, their own story, interspersing little more of his own than is necessary to connect them.

There are few readers to whom the name of Byron is not a subject of interest. The manner in which his personal character and the circumstances of his life were always mixed up in his poetry, render that character and those circumstances objects of peculiar curiosity. The high reputation which, as a poet, he obtained throughout the world, a reputation based especially on a faculty of keen observation, give a value to his minutest opinions on every thing that came under his notice. We, therefore, think we shall have rendered an acceptable service to our readers, in bringing before them, in a connected view, his remarks on the literature and manners of Asia, as we have found them scattered throughout this ample volume.

We have said that Lord Byron was pre-eminently the poet of the East. We do not forget that Mr. Moore and Mr. Southey have both sent their muses eastward: farther eastward indeed, and more into our own regions, than Lord Byron. But the authors themselves remained in the West, while their muses were in the East. They gleaned their observations from books very comfortably by lamplight, while Lord Byron was swimming the Hellespont and climbing the Symplegades. In Lalla Rookh, and the Curse of
Lord Byron.155
Kehama, Mr. Moore saw Persia, and Mr. Southey, Hindostan, through the eyes of other men. There may have been correct copying; and perhaps, also, truth to general nature: but truth to particular nature can only be acquired, in poetry, by actual observation. It was a rule with Lord Byron never to describe any thing he had not seen, and hence his descriptions are all pictures of distinct realities, and carry with them intrinsic evidence of being so. His description of the Plain of Troy, for instance (we select it as an Asiatic scene), is manifestly of the Plain of Troy, and nothing else. It is made up of clear and simple particulars,—all the particulars of the spot, nothing added, and nothing omitted. A picture made up, however carefully, from books, could not fail to be a tissue of confused generalities, which, with mere alterations of name, would suit many other spots as well, and several better.

High barrows, without marble, or a name;
A vast, unfilled, and mountain-skirted plain;
And Ida in the distance, still the same,
And old Scamander (if ’tis he) remain;
The situation seems still formed for fame:
An hundred thousand men might fight again
With ease; but where I sought for Ilion’s walls,
The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls.
Troops of untended horses; here and there,
Some little hamlets with new names uncouth;
Some shepherds (unlike Paris), led to stare
A moment at the European youth,
Whom to the spot their school-boy feelings bear;
A Turk, with beads in hand, and pipe in mouth,
Extremely taken with his own religion,
Are what I found there; but the devil a Phrygian.
Don Juan: Canto IV.

It will have been observed, that throughout his letters and journals, Lord Byron almost invariably prefers the Turks to the Greeks; while, in his poetry, he applied all the energies of his mind to rouse the Greeks, and all Christendom for them, against the Turks. Why he should have done this, thinking, as he did, of both parties; and still more, why he should have risked, and indeed sacrificed, his life in this cause, is a question of which the second volume will perhaps afford the solution.